Watercolor Test Sheet

How to Paint the Watercolor Test Sheet:  22 minute video

  • This 22 minute video discusses the characteristics of watercolor paint and how to create a color chart demonstrating some of those characteristics.  Susan Avis Murphy, an elected member of the American Watercolor Society, shows you how to paint her Watercolor Test Sheet.  After being carefully painted in with your own watercolors, the Watercolor Test Sheet provides you with a complete reference chart, showing you in an instant:
    • Which colors you own
    • Staining versus lifting ability
    • Transparency versus opaqueness
    • Granularity and texture
    • How well it achieves a salt effect
    • Lightfastness of the color
  • The chart is fun and easy to paint, and is extremely useful for all watercolorists, whether they are beginners or advanced.  The chart may be purchased from ARThouse in Sandy Spring, MD, at http://www.arthouseart.com/watercolortestsheet for $18, or through Amazon.com by searching for Watercolor Test Sheet.    The Watercolor Test Sheet is printed on both sides using indelible inks on a piece of authentic watercolor paper, Arches 140 lb. cold-press.  It is currently made at ARThouse and is therefore made completely in America, and can be shipped anywhere within the USA for $6-10.
  • Artists use many different brands of paint today, and this gives you an opportunity to compare your different brands side by side.  Susan uses primarily Winsor & Newton, Holbein, American Journey, and Daniel Smith.  These different companies tend to use their own rating scales for lightfastness.  Hopefully someday, all pigment companies will use the scale of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) which rates lightfastness from [Roman numeral] I – V, with “I” being the most lightfast.  All artists, and especially watercolorists, need to be aware of the issue of fading of pigments, and be sure to use only pigments that receive a I or II designation on the ASTM lightfastness scale.
  • Below is a helpful chart of the different scales of lightfastness used by today’s artist pigment companies.  No not confuse the word “permanence” with lightfastness.  In the world of art materials, permanence means two things:  the degree to which an ink or color resists dissolving, and also the degree to which it resists fading.  When talking about felt tip pens, “permanent” means that it won’t wash off, not that it is lightfast!  When talking about watercolor paint, “permanent” tends to mean lightfast, but the term has not been used very rigorously.
  • I hope you enjoy the video!        Susan Avis Murphy,  ARThouse,  January 21, 2013

Different rating scales for lightfastness:

 

 

 

 

 

Pigment company

Most lightfast

 

 

Least lightfast

 

 

 

 

 

Winsor & Newton

AA or I

A or II

B or III

C  

Holbein

***

**

*

 

American Journey

I

II

III

 

Daniel Smith

I

II

III

 

M. Graham

I

II

III

 

Grumbacher:  No lightfastness information given on website

Da Vinci

I

II

III

 

Schmincke

****

***

**

*

Daler-Rowney

****

***

**

*

Maimeri Blu

***

**

 

*

Blick:  No lightfastness information given on website

Rembrandt

+++

++

+

o

 

 

 

 

 

British Wool Scale (equivalent of ASTM)

7 or 8

5 or 6

3 or 4

1 or 2